Despite the increased popularity of television, the Internet and other modern entertainment, people still do not stop reading. Choosing a book to your liking is far from easy, especially in the field of fiction: each reader must approach this issue individually so as not to be disappointed in the plot or in the style of the author, not to regret the time spent. To help you a little in this matter, we have compiled a top ranking of the best books of the year according to user reviews and tried to be as objective as possible. This includes both short stories and entire epics, here you will meet both domestic and foreign authors. So let’s get started.
List of the twenty best books of all time
20. Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo
From the very moment of its publication, this work hit the bestseller list and continues to be there until today. It was filmed several times, performances and musicals were staged on it. The basis of this work was given by the legendary story about a young man whom his friends jokingly put in prison for some time — the author gathered this information in the police archives of Paris. However, Dumas slightly altered the plot, resulting in a rather long and harsh novel about human relationships, the justice of punishment, love and betrayal, as well as fabulous wealth.
The beginning of the 19th century, the Napoleonic wars had just died down, and France was finally able to breathe easy. A young sailor, Edmond Dantes, is passionately in love with a beautiful Marseille girl named Mercedes. However, he is not alone in experiencing such feelings towards her — Fernand also longs to get her hand and heart. And now the latter decides on a low deed: he writes a denunciation of Dantes to the local prosecutor. Edmond is thrown into prison, where he meets a cellmate, a certain Abbe Faria. He tells him about the treasure and gives him a map to find it. Having managed to escape from prison, Dantes returns first to Marseille, and then to Paris, in order to take revenge on all his offenders. But his name is already the Count of Monte Cristo. So how will this story end, and what kind of sophisticated revenge did the hero of the novel come up with for his enemies?
- France itself of the beginning of the century before last is excellently described;
- The characters seem to be alive;
- The veracity of the presentation makes one believe that everything described in the book actually happened.
Alexandre Dumas «The Count of Monte Cristo»
19. William Shakespeare «Hamlet»
One of the most famous books of medieval literature. It also hides a historical background — as the researchers of the English writer’s work believe, he borrowed the plot from the Danish chronicles. For many, this is a book for all time. It has not lost its popularity and relevance to this day: in almost every second theater this play is performed with enviable regularity, several films have been made based on it.
So, Denmark, the dark and gloomy Middle Ages. Hamlet’s father is killed, but his soul does not find peace, and every night appears near Elsinore, his fiefdom. The guard soldiers on duty decide to inform the young prince about this. He is a ghost and reveals the secret of his death. Hamlet is greatly amazed, but quickly comes to his senses and decides to take revenge on his uncle for the worst biblical sin — the murder of his brother. What exactly is the prince going to do in order not only to return the debt for his father’s life, but also to return the throne usurped from him? Read and have fun.
- Good plot development;
- A quality translation of Pasternak or Lozinsky (although they are slightly different, they perfectly convey the spirit of medieval literature).
- The play is written in rhythmic prose, which can complicate its perception.
William Shakespeare «Hamlet»
This is one of the brightest books of the «lost generation» literature, which, in addition to this author, included such famous writers as Ernest Hemingway, Francis Fitzgerald and many others. Germany, late 1920s. The country will never recover from the terrible First World War, which hit not only the economy of the state, but also ruined the lives of a whole generation of young people who had to spend their entire youth in the trenches, to see the death of their comrades, dirt and blood.
Three friends — Robbie, Kester and Lenz were able to survive this meat grinder and return home alive. They do not lose heart and try not to lose heart, although the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them to this day. Together they open a small auto repair shop, simultaneously engaged in the purchase and sale of cars. Kester builds a racing car on his own in his spare time and names it Carl. On Karla, they drive along the highway at night, go to bars where they drink a lot. And so, one evening they manage to meet a beautiful girl, Patricia. An affair begins between her and Robbie. How successful it will be, and whether love can overcome everything — you will find out only by reading this book to the end.
- All characters are given in development;
- Lots of interesting phrases to think about.
Erich Maria Remarque «Three Comrades»
17. Clive Staples Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
This is a whole cycle of stories by one of the founders of such a genre as fantasy, Clive Staples Lewis. At one time, he, along with D.R.R. Tolkien arranged a competition — who will get the best fairy-tale world. Tolkien took the path of creating a completely autonomous universe of Middle-earth, in no way connected with our world, while in Lewis our worlds intersect — you can easily get from one to another, especially if you have already been there.
The cycle begins with the story of four brothers and sisters — Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. To save them from being bombed by German planes, their parents send them to Professor Digory Kirk’s castle. There they begin to spend their leisure time playing hide and seek. Lucy hides in a wardrobe and through it finds herself in a magical land, and when she returns, she notices that not a second has passed since her absence. The brothers and sisters do not believe her, but soon they themselves find themselves in Narnia. From this begins the story of this unusual country, in which no one is surprised by talking animals, magic and other magic. In addition to this book, this cycle includes the following stories: «Prince Caspian», «The Voyage of the Dawn, or Swimming to the End of the World», «The Silver Chair», «The Horse and His Boy», «The Magician’s Nephew» and «The Last Battle».
- Perfect for kids and adults;
- The original idea to which all works of the cycle are subject.
Clive Staples Lewis «The Chronicles of Narnia»
16. Jerome David Salinger «The Catcher in the Rye»
A cult novel of the 20th century, in which all the main problems of not only American, but also any other society are raised. There is absolutely everything here, and it is shown without embellishment through the eyes of a young 17-year-old guy Holden Caulfield.
By and large, this is the confession of a young hero who has already left childhood and has almost overcome the transitional age, but youthful maximalism does not allow him to take a more objective look at life. He feels everything around him extremely subtly, gives an unbiased assessment of everything and never ceases to wonder why there are so many falsehoods in adult life? The novel (according to other sources, the story) begins from the moment when the guy is already in the clinic for tuberculosis patients. In fact, the work is built on a retrospective basis. The writer allows his hero to speak in the most rude words, perhaps for this reason, the book is still banned in many countries.
- An original language that accurately conveys the statements of youth;
- This novel has been read by many generations of readers.
Jerome David Salinger «The Catcher in the Rye»
15. Alexander Pushkin «Eugene Onegin»
The first major work of new Russian literature, largely thanks to this novel, the formation of the modern Russian language took place. No wonder V.G. Belinsky called it «an encyclopedia of Russian life.» This is the first of the many tragic stories of a young man for which our literature is so famous.
The work is dedicated to a nobleman who was fed up with metropolitan life. The novel begins with his journey to the village, which passes to him by inheritance from his dead uncle. In addition to the development of the plot itself, there are many lyrical digressions that reveal the life experience of the writer himself. Having met a girl named Tatyana Larina in one of the neighboring estates, Eugene at first frankly mocks her, but this is how it will end later — you will only find out by reading the novel to the end. If you read this novel at school, we advise you to pay attention to it even now — it will open for you from a completely different angle.
- Many points are relevant to this day;
- Very easy to read thanks to good verse organization.
Alexander Pushkin «Eugene Onegin»
14. William Golding «Lord of the Flies»
This is the debut novel of the English writer, which immediately brought him worldwide fame, and initially this work was conceived as a humorous commentary on the novel «Coral Island» by R.M. Ballantyne, which was published in the middle of the 19th century. The path to the reader turned out to be very thorny — in 21 publishing houses the writer was refused publication, in the 22nd they agreed to release the book only on condition that the author removes the first few pages, which tell the horrors of nuclear war.
The book begins with the fact that, as a result of a plane crash, a group of children who were brought from England end up on a desert island. Among them, two clear leaders immediately stand out — Ralph and Jack. Children are divided into two camps — the first call themselves hunters. Among the children, a primitive cult of a terrible Beast arises, which they begin to worship, thereby hoping to escape from the island. Will they manage to get out of the island, or are the guys doomed to stay there until the end of their days, more and more mired in internecine war and turning into primitive people?
- An ambiguous work that perfectly reveals the secret elements of human consciousness.
William Golding «Lord of the Flies»
13. Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island
Another adventure novel that made it to our top ranking of the best books. For a long time among researchers it was believed that the whole story was completely invented by the writer, however, in the mid-40s of the last century, the island described in the work was found to be similar to the island of Pinos, located about 70 km from Cuba, which for several centuries was pirate camp.
Events develop in the middle of the 18th century, the plot of the novel begins in England, near Bristol, in a small tavern «Admiral Benbow». The measured life of Jimmy Hawkins and his mother, the owners of the establishment, was disrupted by the sudden death of his father and husband, and some strange guest with a bad temper came to them, besides, he is a chronic alcoholic. Various dark personalities come to visit him, who want to find out some secret from him. Suddenly, this character, who prefers to be called the Captain, dies, Jim and his mother search his chest and find a map of some island in the papers. Apparently, untold riches are buried there. Whether Jim will be able to get out of this scrape alive and get rich, you will find out at the very end of the work.
- A light syllable that is suitable for both a child and an adult;
- The rapid development of the plot will not make bored even the most biased reader.
Robert Louis Stevenson «Treasure Island»
12. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series
This is a whole series of novels by the king of horror Stephen King, which is written at the junction of many genres — fantasy, horror, science fiction, western and so on. As a result, the writer turned out to be an excellent epic dedicated to the wanderings of the main character, Arrow Roland Deschain, through many worlds of our and not only our universe in search of the so-called Dark Tower — the center of the universe, which keeps the world in balance. As a prototype of the protagonist, the author himself called the character of Clint Eastwood from the western «The Good, the Bad, the Evil.»
Roland is the last of the oldest kind of shooters, whose main mission was to protect the Dark Tower, to prevent the forces of evil from penetrating into it and chaos reigned in all worlds. He begins his journey alone, but then several friends join him — a legless black girl Susanna, a former drug addict Eddie, a boy Jake and an unusual animal Ysh — a confusing eared from the world of Roland. He takes all the other characters to himself from our world. You will have to go a long way with the shooter and his friends to find out if he can find the Dark Tower and restore the balance of good and evil in all worlds.
- There are many books written in monumental but not too heavy language;
- It is one of the gems of the fantasy genre.
Stephen King The Dark Tower series
11. Victor Hugo Notre Dame Cathedral
This is the very first prose novel written in French, it was published in the middle of 1831, but it is still being read and filmed. Not so long ago, the musical of the same name had enormous popularity. The work brought European popularity to the writer, because it was immediately translated into other languages or read in the original.
So, in the yard the end of the 15th century. France, Paris — there are festivities that combine two holidays: Christian Epiphany and pagan coronation of jesters. As the jester’s king, the crowd decides to choose the hunchbacked bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, Quasimodo, who is mentored by the priest Claude Frollo, rector of the cathedral. Gypsy Esmeralda also takes an active part in the performance, dancing for the amusement of the public and trying to earn some money by doing this. So, this is only the beginning of the work, but you will learn all the other events of the novel by reading it in full.
- Excellent reveals the life and customs of medieval France;
- Interesting and captivating story with many characters.
Victor Hugo «Notre Dame Cathedral»
10. Ernest Hemingway «For Whom the Bell Tolls»
The fate of the writer himself is quite tragic — at the end of his life he ended up in a clinic for insane people, from where he was released as a practically incapacitated person. He could not bear the fact that he would never be able to write again, and committed suicide. The novel is dedicated to another troubled time — the Spanish Civil War, just one of its episodes, but this is quite enough to reveal the whole essence of the war, its cruelty and ruthlessness.
May 1937, a year has passed since the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. An American internationalist volunteer Jordan arrives at Pablo’s partisan detachment with the task of blowing up the bridge in order to prevent reinforcements from approaching the enemy. An American soldier meets a young girl in the camp, Maria, whose life has been broken into small pieces by the war. The novel has been filmed several times, with Ingrid Bergman herself starring as Maria in one of the most popular versions.
- Absolute historical accuracy, since the author himself took part in that civil war and was able to convey his impressions to the reader;
- Beautiful style and excellent historical digressions.
Ernest Hemingway «For Whom the Bell Tolls»
9. Ivan Turgenev «Fathers and Sons»
The review also included this work of the school curriculum, which is more relevant today than ever. In world literature, it is not widely known, but it is a rather bright moment in Russian literature. Here the problem of an extra person is raised, and the image of the key figure of the work, the nihilist Yevgeny Bazarov, has become a role model for more than one generation of young people, both in pre-revolutionary and modern Russia — an uncompromising character, rejection of authorities and any truths, contempt for beauty and materialism .
The plot begins to develop literally a year and a half before the abolition of serfdom. Arkady, the son of one of them, returns to the estate of the Kirsanov brothers together with his friend Yevgeny Bazarov. Immediately, this character attracts close attention, both of the author himself and of all readers. After reading the novel, you will find out if there is a place for such people in our today’s world and understand how deep the tragedy of the protagonist is.
- The poetic language of the writer;
- Easy perception of the work at any age.
Ivan Turgenev «Fathers and Sons»
8. John R.R. Tolkien trilogy «The Lord of the Rings»
Includes the books The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, often all published in a single volume along with the backstory of The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. This is one of the first stories written in the fantasy genre. Today, the novel has been published in several dozen languages, and the author personally checked the quality of the translation during his lifetime, being a professional philologist.
The story is built around the hobbits — a small undersized people living on the outskirts of Middle-earth. One of them, Bilbo Baggins, was lucky (although, how to look) to find the ring of omnipotence, which previously belonged to the dark lord Sauron. Deciding to retire and go to the kingdom of the elves, Bilbo passes it along with all the property to his nephew Frodo. When he and the magician Gandalf find out that this is indeed the ring of the powerful Sauron, they decide to destroy it in the fire of Mount Doom, that is, exactly where it was cast. This epic begins with this, which excites the minds of many generations.
- Long and very interesting story with many characters.
John R.R. Tolkien trilogy «The Lord of the Rings»
7. JK Rowling «Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone»
Modern fantasy, the novel was first released just over 20 years ago and continues to be very popular in many countries around the world. Critics received the work very favorably, noting the original and soft English humor, not quite a classic development of the plot.
This is the first book in the Harry Potter series. While still a child, he lost his parents — they were killed by the evil wizard Voldemort, besides, he tried to destroy Harry himself, but he did not succeed. Moreover, because of Harry, he completely lost his powers and almost died. The Ministry of Magic decided to give the child to be raised by the closest relatives — the Dursleys. However, life in this family was not at all easy for the boy. Everything changes when one fine day — on the day of his 11th birthday, he receives an owl with a letter of admission to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From this moment, all his adventures begin — let’s see where they will lead him and how they will end.
- Excellent book for adults, children or family reading;
- Relaxed style, read in one breath;
- Fast paced plot.
JK Rowling «Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone»
6. Chuck Palahniuk «Fight Club»
Another iconic novel that was first published in 1996 in the United States. Almost immediately, it was filmed, with well-known Hollywood actors Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter starring, and David Fincher acted as director. The movie at first did not cause a serious response, unlike the novel, but later it received its recognition.
America, mid 1990s. All the events of the novel develop around a nameless hero suffering from insomnia caused by the fact that he is in no way able to fit into the contemporary consumer society. And so, one fine day, he meets a person close to him in spirit — Tyler Durden, with whom they create a fight club, trying to at least somehow fence themselves off from a society alien to them. Who is Tyler and where is the mysterious girl Marla Singer, you will find out at the very end of the novel.
- Interesting and unpredictable plot development;
- The original language, perceived as living speech.
Chuck Palahniuk «Fight Club»
5. George Orwell «1984»
The first in our ranking of the best books is a dystopian novel. There are direct analogies with totalitarianism, especially if you raise it to the absolute. The novel correlates well with other works created in this genre, Fahrenheit 451 by R. Bradbury, We by E. Zamyatin, or Brave New World by O. Huxley.
The plot takes us to the distant future. The central character is named Winston Smith. He lives quietly in London, is a reliable and proven member of the party, and works in the Ministry of Truth. However, for some time now, doubts about the correctness of the party line began to creep into his thoughts. Whether he will be able to hide the discontent ripening in him or whether he will be discovered, and what such considerations can lead to, will become clear in the last pages of the novel.
- A useful story for all thinking people.
George Orwell «1984»
4. Leo Tolstoy «War and Peace»
The first epic of Russian literature, and it is devoted not so much to the Napoleonic wars as to the state of Russian society and the relationship between people during this period. The author hatched the idea for several years, not knowing which of his heroes to give preference to, since his sympathies leaned alternately to one or the other character. As a result, Lev Nikolaevich decided that the main idea of the novel would be the history and fate of the Russian people in the era of wars.
It is rather difficult to give even the most general description of the plot of the work, since there are over 500 characters in the book, and among them there are both real historical figures and fictional heroes. All of them are complex psychologically in their own way, develop throughout the work, are in search of a universal or ordinary life truth. All in all, this is a must read.
- A large monumental work, which every person who loves his homeland should know;
- An interesting language with a large number of folk and literary expressions.
Leo Tolstoy «War and Peace»
3. Stephen King «The Green Mile»
Another novel by the horror master, but this time the action takes place in an American federal prison, where far from the most ordinary prisoner ended up. The work was published in 1996, and almost immediately it received a major award — the Bram Stoker Award, it was awarded in the nomination «Best Novel». Three years later, the book was filmed, starring Tom Hanks.
The main plot of the work develops in the 30s of the last century, in the midst of the Great Depression that began in the United States in 1929. The story is told from the perspective of a character, Paul Edgecomb, who runs Block E at Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Louisiana. It contains prisoners sentenced to death, and Paul himself supervises these executions. One day, a new prisoner is brought to him — the feeble-minded dark-skinned giant John Coffey, condemned to death for the murder of two little girls. But is this really so, and what supernatural abilities are hidden in this extraordinary person?
- This is a novel about good and evil, which penetrate and intertwine with each other.
Stephen King «The Green Mile»
2. Frank Herbert «Dune»
This is the first work in the whole cycle of «Chronicles of Dune», the action of which takes place on the distant sandy planet Arrakis. For this book, the author received honorary American literary awards Hugo and Nebula, it also brought him fame, and today is one of the most popular science fiction novels of the last century. The book raises many issues relevant to humanity, so many critics also refer it to the philosophical genre.
The control of the planet Arrakis passes from one House to another. The main value here is moisture. However, the previous rulers — the House of Harkonenn — are not happy with this development and have planned a military coup. What will the outbreak of civil war lead to and what will now happen to the sources of moisture on the planet, where scorching heat reigns?
- An interesting and informative book that reveals to us not only the plot itself, but also the worldview of the author of the work.
Frank Herbert «Dune»
1. Mikhail Bulgakov «The Master and Margarita»
One of the most mysterious works of Russian literature, not only of the 20th century, but throughout its history. The idea arose from the author back in the late 1920s, but he continued to work on this work until the last days of his life, without having time to edit his creation to the end. It is worth noting that they did not want to print it for a very long time — the first publication took place only in 1966-1967, and then with significant revisions.
It was a hot May day. On the Patriarch’s Ponds, writers were walking and talking about a poem dedicated to Jesus Christ. Suddenly, an incomprehensible type intervened in their conversation, speaking with a strong foreign accent and introducing himself as a famous historian. Who is he? And why did you come to Moscow? What stories are connected with him — all the answers are hidden in the novel.
- The novel intertwines folk, Soviet and European cultures;
- He is distinguished by a truly sparkling humor and serious moments that do not hurt to think about.
Mikhail Bulgakov «The Master and Margarita»
In conclusion, the best book reviews
Here our review of the 20 best books according to readers has come to its logical end. We apologize if it seemed too long to you, but it is impossible to fit even the main interesting books into the traditional top 10 format. If you want to share your favorite books, tell a little about them, then welcome to comment on this article.